Thursday, June 27, 2013


An observant reader (thanks, Ali!) alerted me to the fact that the cover of Why Kings Confess is already up on Amazon. I queried my editor (it was news to her, too!) and so, without further ado, here's the new cover:

You can click on the picture to enlarge it, if you want to see it better.

I'm happy with it. The guy doesn't look like my image of Sebastian (he actually reminds me a lot of Sean Bean in the Sharpe series, whom I always found incredibly sexy), but I love his dynamism and energy and that edge of danger and purposefulness. And I think the cover itself is very striking. Perhaps those of you who don't like to think of Sebastian looking like this can simply decide it's a picture of some other random Regency guy!

And since Amazon also has the cover copy (can you tell I'm feeling a bit late to my own party?), I'll post that, too:

The gruesome murder of a young French physician draws aristocratic investigator Sebastian St. Cyr and his pregnant wife, Hero, into a dangerous, decades-old mystery as a wrenching piece of Sebastian’s past puts him to the ultimate test.

Regency England, January 1813: When a badly injured Frenchwoman is found beside the mutilated body of Dr. Damion Pelletan in one of London’s worst slums, Sebastian finds himself caught in a high-stakes tangle of murder and revenge. Although the woman, Alexi Sauvage, has no memory of the attack, Sebastian knows her all too well from an incident in his past—an act of wartime brutality and betrayal that nearly destroyed him.

As the search for the killer leads Sebastian into a treacherous web of duplicity, he discovers that Pelletan was part of a secret delegation sent by Napoleon to investigate the possibility of peace with Britain. Despite his powerful father-in-law’s warnings, Sebastian plunges deep into the mystery of the “Lost Dauphin,” the boy prince who disappeared in the darkest days of the French Revolution, and soon finds himself at lethal odds with the Dauphin’s sister—the imperious, ruthless daughter of Marie Antoinette—who is determined to retake the French crown at any cost.

With the murderer striking ever closer, Sebastian must battle new fears about Hero’s health and that of their soon-to-be born child. When he realizes the key to their survival may lie in the hands of an old enemy, he must finally face the truth about his own guilt in a past he has found too terrible to consider.... 

So what do y'all think of the cover? Love it? Hate it? Can live with it? The most important factor for me is, Will it attract new readers? And I think it will do that nicely. 

UPDATE: And did you notice my name is AT THE TOP? Finally!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Back to Writing

Life has been getting in the way of writing a lot lately. First, a huge chunk of my time went to helping my daughter get ready to move (and fixing up her furniture, as discussed in the previous post). Then I went over to San Antonio for a week to help her get settled in. Then, just to complicate things, the day after I came home, I smashed my right hand so badly I could neither type nor hold a pen. Talk about frustrating!

But I've now picked up where I left off with Who Buries the Dead, which will be book # 10 in the Sebastian St. Cyr series for those keeping track. All that time away enabled me to come back and look at the manuscript with fresh eyes, so that I immediately spotted solutions to a few niggling little things that had been bothering me. I wouldn't exactly describe the last few weeks as a vacation, but it has certainly been a break, and I hope that will prove to be a good thing.

While we were gone, one of my climbing roses invaded the screened in second-floor gallery where our two cats with "elimination issues" (fondly known as the P Cats) live. I plan to cut it off even though they're not toxic to cats, but in the meantime, Whiskies has really been enjoying it!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Candy's Furniture Repair Shop

I wouldn't exactly call furniture restoration one of my "hobbies," because people are supposed to enjoy their hobbies and I don't actually like working on furniture. It's too nerve wracking; something can always go suddenly, horribly wrong--and frequently does.

But I still seem to find myself doing an awful lot of it. It all started after Katrina, when I had a house full of lovely, ruined old furniture and quickly realized that our flood insurance was not going to begin to stretch to get it all professionally put to rights. Fortunately, we had a friend who worked restoring furniture for area museums and plantations, and he walked through the house with me, telling me what to do--or at least try--with each item (he also told me to just "throw away" one of my favorite pieces, but I didn't listen to that part). The fact that everything was already essentially destroyed gave me the courage to forge ahead. But once it was all finished, I put away my hide glue pot and shellac flakes and artists colors (I quickly realized I needed to mix my own stains) with a sigh of relief and said, "Never again."

Then my younger daughter moved into an apartment and thought that old map case we had in the storeroom would make a nice coffee table....

She also took the hutch that was in the spare bedroom, which meant I had to fix up my dad's old gun cabinet and fit it out with shelves to take its place.

Now my older daughter is moving off to Texas with a few items that really could use some tender loving care before she leaves.

My partner in all this is Steve, who very obligingly routs missing pieces of trim and cuts shelves and translates my sketches for coffee table legs into reality and does all sorts of other things that are utterly beyond me, and with nary a complaint. But I swear, when this round is all over, I am quitting. I really am. Once I fix up that old cedar chest....

Monday, June 03, 2013

Favorite Children's Mysteries

My all-time, hands-down favorite mystery story as a child was this one:

Originally written in French by Paul Berna, it's about a gang of poor French street urchins who get tangled up in a dangerous heist. I read this book over and over again, for years. I also read Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew and The Bobbsey Twins, but they were never in quite the same league as The Horse Without a Head.

Another favorite was Emile and the Detectives. 

I don't know what it says about me, but this one was originally written in German. It was, to quote Wiki, "the only one of [Kastner's] pre-1945 works to escape Nazi censorship... The most unusual aspect of the novel, compared to existing children's literature at the time, was that it was realistically set in a contemporary Berlin peopled with some fairly rough characters, not in a sanitized fantasy world; also that it refrained from obvious moralizing, letting the characters' deeds speak for themselves."

So, what was your favorite mystery as a kid?

And H/T to my friend Laura Joh Rowland, whose recent Facebook post inspired this journey down memory lane. Her favorite as a child was Mystery of the Green Cat, by Phyllis Whitney. Somehow I missed that one.